Yesterday I went to the farewell luncheon for the Pastoral Associate, Sr. Joan Luerman OSF with whom I had worked for the entire six years that I was in Parish Ministry. She is retiring from active ministry to return to her Mother House (She is an Oldenburg Franciscan ). I was a bit intimidated about going back to the parish after so long.
There are some parishioners who were happy to see me leave I would venture to say that that is true of anyone in ministry. Someone once told me when I was having a particularly difficult time with one parishioner, that if you aren't making someone mad, you just aren't doing your job.
It really was a nice day though, in general everyone was pleasant, and there were so many people that I was happy to see again. Some that I hadn't realized how much I missed until I did see them. One woman, Sharon, had been my assistant in the School of Religion program the entire time was a particularly poignant reconnection with a promise of a lunch sometime really soon.
Another couple, are the Confirmation sponsors of my two middle daughters, whom they occasionally get cards from but we no longer talk to or see regularly. The husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and is in the early stages. Knowing that I am dealing with it with my mother, the wife thinks of me. He seems to be coping pretty well for now. My prayers are redoubled and very focused for them now.
Another woman, Amy whom I used to chat with often in the last year or so I worked there wasn't a Catholic yet when I was still there. At the time she was a Buddhist, and was being awakened to life as a mystic. I sought her out because in her I saw someone who might understand and be able to put words to my awakening avenue of prayer. We talked about our understanding of prayer as a mystical, often wordless connection to the Transcendent Other. We also talked about Eucharist and Trinity and other theological matters during our discussions. At the time I felt that she was on the road to the Church and some day, when the time was right would join her husband and son at the Table. Just last year I saw her name in the Archdiocesan paper in the list of those who were being welcomed into the Church at the Vigil Mass and my heart sang for joy. Each Monday when I sit down to write my Mystic Monday post I think of Amy, because she helped me to understand that being a mystic was one way God speaks to our hearts, and we can embrace that way and be totally open to it. We promised to get together this week for lunch. I can't wait to have another chat.
The Parish Deacon was on his yearly retreat, but his wife, Kathy, who had been the parish secretary while I was working there was in attendance, and we got to chat. I also got to see her daughter, April who spent a lot of time in the office, and whose wedding I attended while I was working at the parish. They both looked wonderful. And made me really sad that I haven't kept better in touch with them.
A young woman, Elizabeth, whose brother is a seminarian at my Gradual School was there. I have been trying to encourage her to attend St. Meinrad as a lay student every since she graduated from Steubenville. I think it would be an awesome fit for her and she would be an awesome addition to the Lay Degree program. Now that her brother Joshua is there as a seminarian I encouraged her to go down for a visit and get in touch with the Director of the Lay Degree program and have a look around. I may have been a bit of a hard sell, but hey, it was one of the best things I did, and something that good has to be shared.
All in all the reception I got was really great. I did have really sort of sour note, and both of the priests I had worked for were there and between them I didn't get a full sentence of recognition that I was even in attendance, but it wasn't my day, so whatever.
I loved Sr. Joan and I hope her retirement is as wonderful as her ministry was.